Re:Considering the City: UEI Workshop Report

The Isarauen (Courtesy of Jan Antonin Kolar by way of Unsplash)

By Daniel Dumas and Carolin Maertens

22 January 2021

The City Environments Initiative (UEI) held its third workshop entitled Re:Considering the City on 22 January 2021. The net workshop introduced UEI members from throughout the globe collectively for an in-depth evaluation and dialogue concerning two case research of “areas of residing in transformation” which have undergone important change in Munich—the Isarauen and the Schlachthof. The workshop was divided into two essential components, the primary being devoted to an alternate of ideas, reactions, and opinions concerning the 2 case research whereas the second half targeted extra on the planning of the upcoming UEI convention in June 2021 (extra particulars beneath).

The Isarauen and the Schlachthof case research represented a wonderful start line for the workshop as members had been launched to them by way of two temporary introductory articles (click on on the hyperlinks above). The Isarauen is a first-rate instance of an city inexperienced house that has been renaturalized to be able to return “nature” to town. The Schlachthof and Viehhof, then again, are one of many outdated slaughterhouses and cattle markets of Munich. Whereas components of the complicated have been remodeled into artistic political and cultural areas which are more and more below strain by gentrification, the district continues to keep up its significance as a meals hub within the metropolis. 

The unique plan for the workshop had been to ask members to Munich for sidewalk excursions of each areas to find out about their character, historical past, and unfolding transformations via instant expertise of and engagement with the websites. Because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we tailored the plan by getting ready two extremely immersive movies for every case research. To get a really feel of the areas, the movies seize among the on a regular basis sights, sounds, and sensations of those dynamic areas. To view the movies merely press play on each hyperlinks beneath:

Case Research 1: The Isarauen

Case Research 2: The Schlachthof and Viehhof space in Munich

In breakout periods, members mentioned each case research. Because the UEI brings collectively consultants from quite a lot of disciplines similar to structure, biology, planning, anthropology, historical past, and geography (to call just a few), the discussions have been good conduits for interdisciplinary debate. The discussions regarding each research centered round three essential matters that favored interdisciplinary debate, particularly restoring nature to town, gentrification, and planning processes extra broadly.

The primary of those matters targeted totally on the Isarauen case research, the place members tackled the concept of “renaturalization” and what this suggests. From a planning perspective, it was seen as a method of restoring “nature” throughout the metropolis, albeit {a partially} synthetic or managed “nature,” as it’s subjected not solely to regulation and planning processes of the municipal authorities however, as anthropologists identified, additionally to culturally knowledgeable concepts of what “nature” is and what doesn’t rely as “pure.”  Turning to anthropological and organic concerns, it was argued that additional inquiry into the administration of ecological techniques which are thought of to be “pure” ought to be perceived as they’re, in actual fact, very a lot human-made and managed, and will certainly run in opposition to what is definitely “pure.”

As the realm across the Isarauen is tremendously well-liked and closely impacted by human use, how do birds, fish, and flora cope? Who advocates for his or her proper to city nature (even when it’s human-made)? These questions led to a dialogue of the social historical past of the Isarauen and people concerned in pushing for the renaturalization challenge. Reintroducing nature into town isn’t a assured success, as it could profit some whereas adversely affecting others.   

Discussions round the Schlachthof equally touched upon other-than-human impacts given its significance as a slaughter and meals hub for town. Although slaughter operations have lowered, the Schlachthof remains to be a outstanding function of the district, which is welcoming an inflow of latest residents attributable to gentrification. The neighborhood has attracted rising consideration given its proximity to town heart, decrease rents, and inventive aptitude (embodied by the Bahnwärter Thiel—a artistic cultural gathering house—and the brand new Volkstheater [“people’s theater”]).

Nonetheless, the multifaceted layers of its historical past and ongoing operate as a slaughterhouse district proceed to manifest within the face of those adjustments. A key instance is the occasional scent escaping into the air from the slaughterhouse, inflicting discomfort to close by residents who could want to overlook a key side of the Schlachthof’s identification.

Extra broadly, gentrification as a course of was a matter of specific debate amongst members from a mess of disciplinary backgrounds, with members mulling over the controversies surrounding its seemingly ubiquitous manifestations in city facilities internationally. In the end, it was superior that gentrification brings about human adjustments in addition to adjustments to the more-than-human world. However what affect does gentrification have on the plant and animal lifetime of city areas? 

Bridging each case research in concept and follow was the important thing subject of planning. Initiatives such because the renaturalization of the Isarauen within the early 2000s, and even the preliminary creation of the Schlachthof within the 1870s, have been deliberate tasks with particular functions for residents of town. One was meant to revive nature to the city panorama whereas the opposite was meant to create a secure operational house for slaughterhouses to keep away from the unfold of illness.

These discussions led our interdisciplinary group to a typical query: Are planning processes ever actually completed? A challenge should of necessity be completed in some unspecified time in the future, however is that this not a contradiction on condition that steady processes remodel these areas? Maybe, we should reshape our understanding of planning in order that it’s seen as a multifaceted course of that includes a variety of actors.  

Each the Isarauen and Schlachthof case research succeeded in fuelling discussions about key points similar to planning processes, gentrification, human/other-than-human relations, and different challenges which are current in city contexts throughout the globe.

As a way to proceed the work began over the previous two years, the UEI is organizing a digital convention based mostly on the theme of “Irritations and Unexpected Penalties of the City” to be held from 30 June to 2 July 2021. The convention will take into account key themes associated to creating, planning, and negotiating city environments with an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration. If you’re enthusiastic about contributing or taking part, please go to the UEI website right here.

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